Gourmet food dreams - white sand Christmas

Ever thought of escaping the family Christmas and heading to a tropical island?

If that was possible on a writer's wage I'd put Lizard Island at the top of my destination list and set myself down at  Lizard Island's Executive Chef Anthony Healy week-long culinary Christmas season celebration.

I could be one of the guests snorkelling or diving the beautiful Great Barrier Reef or simply sinking my feet into the island's 24 powdery white beaches, while Healy creates a specially designed Reveillon Christmas Eve Menu, a Christmas Day menu and a New Year's Eve menu for the festive season.  Instead I will be slaving in the kitchen preparing food with love for my nearest and dearest.

If you feel the need to escape this Christmas, here's the low down on Lizard Island's offering.

The Reveillon is a European tradition in the form of a long dinner or party usually held the night before Christmas Day.  Lizard Island's Reveillon menu will offer 24-month aged Jamon Iberico with a celeriac paste to start, followed by organic quail and boudin noir, roast barramundi, organic duck breast and followed by apple tarte tatin. The five-course Reveillon dinner will be matched by a selection of Australian, New Zealand and French wines.

On Christmas Day, guests will be treated to a light, yet traditional, Christmas dinner offering smoked ham hock terrine, local painted crayfish, seared red emperor, slow roast Australian turkey breast and traditional Christmas pudding.

On New Year's Eve, celebrations on Lizard Island will kick off at Ospreys Restaurant with oysters and cream, matched with NV Louis Roederer Champagne, followed by Western Australian Marron, seared coral trout, eight-score Wagyu sirloin, a selection of cheeses and fresh fruit and the dessert finale - Healy's interpretation of a deconstructed Snickers bar, a layered chocolate ganache with a salted peanut butter parfait, a nougat espuma and a salted butter praline. The seven-course New Year's Eve dinner will be matched by a variety of Australian wines.

This will be Healy's first Christmas on the Island. He joined Lizard Island from Hayman Island where he was Chef de Cuisine in La Fontaine restaurant for two and a half years. He has a culinary career spanning 10 years around the world working in top restaurants in London (Les Trois Garcons), France (La Cote Saint Jacques) as well as Australia (Il Centro).

"I'm still making dishes that have a strong French influence in style and quality but I'm introducing options that are fresh and light and reflect the fact that we are on a beautiful tropical island," said Healy.

"The produce we use on Lizard Island is second to none. Our food is flown in daily, such as line-caught reef fish, local prawns, red emperor and Spanish mackerel, plus local produce from the nearby Atherton Tablelands such as beef from the rich volcanic soils of Mareeba," he said. "The choice we have of locally-grown fresh produce is fantastic and our location here on the Great Barrier Reef is no barrier to quality food."

The main pavilion on Lizard Island houses the fine dining restaurant, Ospreys, and under the direction of Healy, the restaurant's menu changes daily.

Award winning and a constant favourite in the world's 'best' lists, Lizard Island is located right on the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, 240km north of Cairns and 27km off the coast of Cape Flattery. An idyllic island fringed with pristine coral reefs, crystal clear waters and 24 powdery white beaches, Lizard offers the postcard perfect setting for an Australian island escape.

Kerry Heaney

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Disclaimer: Never been invited to Lizard Island but I'm open to suggestions. :) Simply sharing food love here.